When I first picked up Robert Schuller's massive autobiography detailing his trajectory from Iowa farm boy to American icon, I wasn't at all sure I was going to like him.

I admit from the get-go that the avuncular evangelist for "possibility thinking" deserves respect for the sheer audacity of his accomplishments. How many American clergy lead a 10,000-member church on a 40-acre campus? How many preach in a building paneled with more than 10,000 windows that contains a world-class organ and a stream running down the middle aisle, for Pete's sake?

Surely no one would have predicted such a spectacular phenomenon when the Reformed Church of America pastor arrived in Orange County, California, more than 45 years ago with $500 in assets to start a mission congregation amid the unreached people groups of the West Coast.

The septuagenarian's keen ability to ride the wave of popular psychology and sincere desire to make the Good News something easily grasped made him a magnet. First he attracted Southern Californians, then viewers of his Hour of Power all over the country, people put off by the status quo traditionalism of many American mainline congregations in the mid-20th century.

An American Success Story

Schuller has lived a life free from public scandal, aside from an altercation with a flight attendant in the mid-'90s (about where to hang his clergy robe—an incident not mentioned in the book). My Journey is an upbeat, uniquely American mix of "farm boy makes good" and "God helps those who help themselves." While he avoids malicious gossip or attacks on his theological opponents, Schuller doesn't prod the conscience or even awaken the mind to go deeper in ...

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My Journey: From an Iowa Farm to a Cathedral of Dreams
My Journey: From an Iowa Farm to a Cathedral of Dreams
544 pp., 1.95
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